Travel back in time with me. Back to 12 September 1944. Around ten o’clock in the morning, American soldiers under the command of Captain Kent of the 30th American Division, nicknamed ‘Old Hickory’, are the first allies to cross the Dutch-Belgian border. On that day, the first inhabitants of South Limburg, of the Netherlands even, will regain their freedom after years of living in fear and insecurity. But they will soon realize the cost of that freedom.
We know today that the events during and around World War II and the liberation in ’44 are forever connected with South Limburg society. I sometimes wonder whether we are sufficiently aware of this. Our youngest generations no longer know stories firsthand. And more than seventy years later, a life in freedom is taken for granted by many of us. Fortunately! We are faced with a serious challenge: How do we transfer the stories from then, and with that a part of our identity and our sense of freedom, to the next generation?
I will therefore take you to the future, to 2019. That year in South Limburg we will celebrate the 75th anniversary of our freedom. An exceptional opportunity to showcase the events and stories again in an appealing way. To make ourselves and each other strongly aware of the fragility of peace and freedom. Let the Liberation Concert, filled with compelling music in this awe-inspiring place, stir up this awareness and encourage gratitude for the brave men and women who have made our current life in freedom possible. Together we pass on the freedom.
Mayor of Eijsden-Margraten